Today's listening - "Deja Vu and the Sins of Science" by Tears For Fears.
So, I was walking through my local shopping centre, pinged from one shop to the other and straight into the queue at Costa. A tall black Americano. I want a tall, BLACK Americano.
The queue, for 10.30ish AM, was - unecessary. Peering at the faces of the encumbant baristas, I can only assume they were trainees - the faces were unfamiliar, nervy and thoroughly pissed off looking. I hit a spot of warm sun as I shuffled into line - a spear of warm sun lancing down my back.
In front of me were three suits - two male, one female. One of the suits had a spot of black ink on the inside right of his open necked shirt - he didn't look the type to be negligible about such things. The other male suit was tall, awkward looking, and the sort of person I couldn't have ever respected when I was a suit - insincere eyes, nothing behind them except a vague thought of "I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about" all wrapped up in management blue sky speak type bullshit. If I'd had a stick of celery, I could have knocked him over with it.
This queue ISN'T moving fast enough.
The female suit was short, plain looking with dirty blonde hair - and though I didn't get close enough to verify this - probably had halitosis. She looked kinda stinky. The warm sun on my spine had been replaced with a dull throb of discomfort as I overwigged their conversation....We're very open.....we don't like to pull rank with people....we're a community you see....but we have absolutely no qualm in saying something is YOUR responsibility if we have to....but we don't like to do that.....
So they're next. I want a TALL black Americano.
Can we have a.....er......(five minutes chatting shite in the queue and they hadn't even the courtesy to have their order ready).....I want a....um......small.....small? Yes, small cappuccino....also can we have a skinny hot chocolate, and an Americano, small.
Pissed off nervy barista boy repeats the order with an intonation that implies a question mark for verifcation.
Celery man nods, with a twitchy smile. Can you all just fuck off out of the way now so I can order my coffee?
"Large black Americano to go please...."
The coffee is hotter than the sun. Fingering the cup awkwardly I stride purposely to the car - after all, I have things to do. My stride was not enough of an indicator of my urgency to a diminutive young woman who crossed my path. Oh Fuck. She's selling.
"Hello Sir have you got a moment?"
"Oh! Let me....."
The cup was out of my hand, coff-napped. In a blink she was across the floor, standing at her pedestal with my coffee, holding it to ransom.
"Oh it IS hot isn't it?"
I HAD to go over, this pissed me off. She was pretty, but smug looking - yeah, she'd got me to stand attentive so I'd look smug about it too. But she wasn't going to win this one.
"My name's Stephanie, nice to meet you."
The hand was outstretched, instinctively my hand cupped into hers and I was aware that she KNEW she was winning this one.
Just shut down, she can't win if you just shut down.
The blurb followed, about who provided my energy. That fucking coffee would if you'd just give it back. I had to give her dues, despite my uncommunicative grunts and furtive looks between my coffee and the nearest exit, she was flirting well. The smile was insincere though quite warming, and the twizzle of the long honeyish hair through her fingers as she talked were vaguely appealing. She pulled out her mobile and called someone to check my tarriff against the one she was flogging. She was on hold.
"Do you work round here?"
"What do you do?"
Her brow crinkled a little, nose scrunching.
"Hmmmm, you look like a photographer...."
Did she mean I looked like a specific photographer or, generically, I looked like how a photographer would look to her? This vagueness of aside annoyed me further. I think maybe, she just meant scruffy.
Apparently her tarriff would save me £148 a year in energy bills. She said this loudly, boastfully, proudly - ironically too, as her colleague was engaged with a belligerent passer by (without coffee) who proclaimed they had signed up last year and were out of pocket. I almost smiled, almost.
Stephanie was sure that her doe eyes and smile were winning out, and slid a contract out from her folder. Pen poised...."So can I take your full name?"
"I'm not signing a contract, here - now...."
"Sorry, give me something to take away and I'll make my own mind up."
"But it's only vaild today, this quote....haven't you got better things to spend that £148 on rather than energy bills?"
The smile again. Yes, I had. A leather jacket. But YOU'RE not getting a commission from me today Stephanie.
I stood, almost staring at her waiting for her to say something next. The one who speaks next, loses. For the first time I noticed she was actually really pretty. She spoke.
"Well, of course you're free to check this out yourself, do your own comparisons..."
Am I? Oh. Thanks.
"I'll do that, thank you."
Now I smiled.
"Have a nice day." She didn't mean it.
Grabbing my coffee, I found it had cooled.
Oh Stephanie, it could have all been so different.